Varsity girls’ basketball’s December 26th win at the County Center over St. Joseph’s may be the only time it plays there this season. They certainly made it count.
When Head Coach Don Hamlin came into the locker room post-game to address his players, he felt a buzz in the room. That buzz turned into applause very quick. Hamlin, confused, asked why they were cheering. Unbeknownst to him, he’d just earned his 350th career win as Briarcliff Head Coach.
“I didn’t even realize it, there was no pressure coming in to get the win because I had no idea,” said Hamlin. “I thought we played pretty well, played awesome defense and Kacey (his daughter) was named MVP, so that was cool.” “It’s a testament to the fact that I’ve had some really good players over the years,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin has seen just about everything during his 23 years here at BHS. He’s seen rebuilding years, and he’s coached teams that have won section, state and federation championships. It all amounts to a 358-129 record and a sparkling 73 win percentage. Certain memories stand out to him from his coaching tenure.
“Our first section championship stood out,” said Hamlin. “It was my third year coaching varsity,
and the seniors on that team, I had coached from JV on up, so to win a gold ball like that was cool. Obviously the second gold ball in 2008 followed by state and federation championships was very memorable.”
350 wins doesn’t mean Hamlin is near ready to call it a coaching career. In fact, this year he has one of the most talented teams he has had at Briarcliff. Led by the big three of Maddie Plank, Kacey Hamlin and Alana Lombardi, the Bears stand at 14-1, ranked number two in Section 1 Class B and number five overall in the Lohud Section 1 Power Rankings.
“This team is tough, and when they play well they are really tough to stop, and it is fun to watch,” he said. “Players have improved to the point where there is not a big drop off from the starters to the bench.”
Hamlin knows well that Irvington will always be standing between the Bears, a section title and possibly a deep playoff run, but he says he is not focused on that.
“Our approach has always been to keep getting better,” said Hamlin. “We need to be more consistent rebounding the ball, more consistent defensively and just continue to run as hard as we can. The rest will take care of itself.”